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Budget 2024: Hong Kong to Assess Talent Visas while Nurturing Local Talents

The Hong Kong government will put more effort into nurturing local talents while also reviewing existing talent schemes to ensure their effectiveness.

The government will organise a summit and a conference in May, aiming at promoting the flow of talent in the Greater Bay Area.

“A larger pool of talent can boost economic development and competitiveness,” said Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po in today’s budget speech. Photo by Elaine LAI Uen Ling

More than 140,000 applications have been received under the various talent admission schemes, of which more than 100,000 have been approved in the past year, said Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po in his budget address today.

The Top Talent Scheme, launched in 2022, allows people with incomes higher than HK$2.5 million or degrees from eligible universities to apply for residency without employment. This added an estimated HK$34 billion to the economy, equivalent to 1.2% of Hong Kong's GDP, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said in a public address in February. 

Chan said that 60% of immigrant talents were married, and most of them have brought their families to Hong Kong.  

Lilian Bao, 42, a former executive of a Beijing-based internet company who emigrated to Hong Kong under the talent scheme, now lives with her daughter in Hung Hom.

“I immigrated to Hong Kong for my daughter's future education,” she said. “I want her to enjoy a more international, diverse and independent learning and living experience here.”

Lillian Bao’s daughter, right, is now studying in primary six and will soon start secondary school. She hopes her daughter can complete her undergraduate studies in Hong Kong.

Some doubt the long-term effectiveness of the talent schemes. Some applicants have not complied with the time frame for coming to Hong Kong and securing employment after receiving approval, said legislator Adrian Ho in a Legco meeting in January.

Ho also said that some say the scheme is relatively lenient in the work experience requirement and the vetting and approval criteria, making it possible for some people to exploit the scheme to immigrate to Hong Kong. 

“There are rumours that individual applicants have only come to Hong Kong for giving birth, travel convenience, enhancing their own curriculum vitae, etc, resulting in the scheme being ‘tainted’ and not truly fulfilling its purpose of contributing to Hong Kong's economy,” Ho said.

The Hong Kong government has tried to persuade admitted talents to stay in Hong Kong by providing refunds on property stamp duties. Chan announced the stamp duty would be cancelled in today’s budget.

Bao said she plans on staying in Hong Kong at least until she gets permanent residency.

Chan also said the Hong Kong government will put more effort into nurturing local talent. 

“We will continue to take forward a number of sector-specific talent training programmes to enrich the local talent pool,” said Chan.

The sectors include I&T, healthcare, maritime and aviation, patents and international law.

Additional funding of HK$134 million will be given to publicly-funded primary schools in the next two academic years to enhance student interests in information technology, Chan also proposed in his speech.

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) started as a newspaper in 1969. Today, it is published across multiple media platforms and updated constantly to bring the latest news and analyses to its readers.


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